Boat Race 2020: Oxford Trial Eights

London, UK

2 minute view
Words & Photos Benedict Tufnell
Published 12.12.19

As part of their preparation for the Boat Races in March, Oxford’s mens and women’s boatclubs raced the full boat race course in matched eights on the Tideway on Wednesday. 


The women went first, racing in crews named Morely and Brown (after two members of the first OUWBC crew in 1927) at 11am. They were umpired by Judith Packer who will be the 2020 Women’s Boat Race umpire.

The two crews were relatively level off the start and for the first minute or so before Morely settled into a stronger rhythm and steadily moved into the lead. 

At six minutes, Morely led by two lengths over Brown. At Barnes, Morely had a lead of 7.4 seconds which they held onto for the remainder of the race, eventually finishing 6.25 seconds ahead of Brown.

The men’s eights, named Hurley and Burly, raced an hour later at noon. Hurley, stroked by OUBC President Augustin Wambersie, won easily over Burly having led the race from the start. 

As the crews rowed under Hammersmith Bridge, Hurley had increased their lead to an open water advantage, allowing them to row comfortably out front. By 8 minutes in, Hurley had put Burly in their wake, as they continued to move away. Hurley eventually crossed the finish line with a lead of several lengths over Burly. 

The race was umpired by Sarah Winckless, who will be the first woman to umpire the men’s Boat Race when she does so in March 2020. 

According to the OUBC President Wambersie, “trial Eights are extremely important for all members of the club… for newcomers it will be their only crack at the course before the real deal. Trial Eights tests rowers to see how they react in the Boat Race environment.”